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Medical School Enrollment Forecast Tempered by Residency Concerns

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, May 6, 2013

Medical schools will boost enrollment 30% by 2017 to ease the nation's physician shortage, but that won't do much good if the federal government won't provide funding to expand residency slots, a new survey of the nation's medical school deans finds.

"Our medical schools have fulfilled their commitment toward taking the first step in addressing the physician shortage," says Christiane Mitchell, director of federal affairs for the Association of American Medical Schools. "Now we have to ask Congress to help us take the second step to make sure all of those new medical school graduates have a residency training position."

The 9th annual Medical School Enrollment Survey from the AAMC's Center for Workforce Studies found that first-year medical school enrollment is projected to reach 21,434 in 2017-18—a 30% increase above first-year enrollment in 2002-03, the baseline year used to calculate the enrollment increases that the AAMC called for in 2006.

In the survey, however, 40% of the medical school deans expressed "major concern" about enrollment growth outpacing growth in the number of available residency training positions. The 2013 annual match of medical school graduates with residency slots was only the second time there were more unmatched U.S. seniors than unfilled positions; the first time was 2010.

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